Pelicans star Zion Williamson out due to health and safety protocols

By Sports Desk December 22, 2022

The New Orleans Pelicans will be without top offensive option Zion Williamson for Thursday's game against the San Antonio Spurs due to the league's health and safety protocols.

Williamson, 22, has been the Pelicans' leading scorer this season at 25.2 points per game, and after missing the entire 2021-22 campaign, he has suited up for 25 of his team's 30 games this time around.

He will miss his sixth game of the season after triggering the league's COVID-19 protocols, and with it being the first leg of a back-to-back, he will also likely miss Friday's road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Williamson has been one of the game's most dominant forces in December, raising his usage while fellow All-Star Brandon Ingram has also been out injured, having not played since November 25.

In his nine games in December, Williamson has averaged 28.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game while shooting 62.2 per cent from the field. He is the only player this season shooting at least 60 per cent from the field (60.3) while averaging over 25 points per game.

In his absence, it will be up to C.J. McCollum to run the show against the Spurs. He is sporting his worst figures in points per game (18.7) since his second season in 2014-15, along with a career-worst field goal percentage of 41.5.

However, his 5.8 assists per game represent a career high, and he is beginning to find his scoring touch, with totals of 28, 27 and 31 in his past three outings.

As well as McCollum, it will be a golden opportunity for emerging wing Trey Murphy III, with last year's first-round draft pick having flashed intriguing potential in five 20-point games so far this season, having only posted two during his rookie campaign.

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